Camp Bayou Outdoor Learning Center will celebrate its 25th anniversary with its Spring Fest on Saturday, March 23.

Join Camp Bayou as it welcomes spring and celebrates its 25th anniversary with some fun activities at its Spring Fest on Saturday, March 23, from 9 a.m.-12 Noon. Some of the activities you can expect include nature activity tables, trail walks, tomato seedling giveaways, plant swaps (no invasives please) and cart tours.

Joining the morning shenanigans are the Paleo Preserve Fossil Museum, Raptor Center of Tampa Bay, Manatee Viewing Center, Little Manatee River State Park and Florida Forestry Service.

No registration is required, and it’s free. Go out and experience all that Camp Bayou has to offer.

While you are marking your calendar, save the date, Saturday, April 13, for a night paddle to explore the Little Manatee River after dark — without flashlights. Canoes and kayaks are available for $25 per boat; it costs $5 if you have your own vessel. Plan to arrive by 7 p.m. to be out on the water by 7:30 p.m. Registration is required; email or call the office 813-641-8545. Camp Bayou continues to offer day paddle trips on the first and third Saturdays of each month at 9 a.m.; reservations are required. 

The Camp Bayou Outdoor Learning Center is neither a campground nor a summer camp. It was an RV park before the county’s ELAP program purchased the land, but it is now open for day use only, with its 200 acres open to the general public. Through volunteers, donations, supporters and grants, the managing nonprofit, Bayou Outdoor Learning and Discovery Inc. (B.O.L.D.), offers preregistered programs to schools, youth groups, adult groups and families. The center is open Thursday through Sunday from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. for passive recreational pursuits, such as wildlife watching, nature photography and trail walks. General admission is still free.

For those who are interested in helping with registered groups, Camp Bayou is looking for enthusiastic volunteers who love the outdoors and want to pass along that passion to others through hands-on activities, walks and canoe tours, as well as to help with maintenance and exhibits. Contact Becki at 813-641-8545 or fill out the form at It is mainly looking for folks to help teach school groups in grades K-6, but there are other opportunities as well.

The Camp Bayou Outdoor Learning Center is a public-private partnership between B.O.L.D. and Hillsborough County Conservation & Environmental Lands Management. Camp Bayou is located 3 miles south of State Road 674 at the end of 24th Street SE in Ruskin. Check out the Camp Bayou Facebook page and, for more information, visit or call 813-641-8545.

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